One of the saddest things about betrayal is that it doesn’t come from our enemies. It is the loved ones who inflict this emotional pain on us! And while the physical wounds often heal quickly, sadly, the same can’t be said about the scars of betrayal. Betrayal often maims caring souls in a manner that no words or phrases can describe entirely. Betrayal trauma can lead to several physiological & psychological issues. Primarily because of these reasons, it forms the subject matter of this discussion. We will look at how this traumatic experience can have a long-lasting impact on a person’s mind and body.
Psychological Impact Of Betrayal Trauma
Our brain has an in-built response to stress, anxiety, and depression. The limbic and hippocampal regions constitute the emotional response centre in our brain. Critical events unfold in these regions, changing how our brain defines abstract concepts like trust, safety, and relations. In simple words, post-betrayal, the emotional response centre enters into the state of a survival mode. The limbic system now starts acting much like an alarm; its constant ringing makes the hippocampus scan and search for memories. That is when accuracy, trust, and confidence begin to fade away from one’s system. Doubt becomes your companion for most of your day; feelings of insecurity and unsafety tarnish your overall profile. Every little thought you once cherished now feels a tainted, dislocated memory.
Of course, this is a rather simplistic explanation of the effects of betrayal on the brain. In most cases, unfortunately, these changes are not short-term. Continuous exposure to stress can make the limbic system enter a prolonged state of hyper or hypo-arousal. The way your mind perceives changes and recalls memories post-betrayal is heartbreakingly contrasting to how it would typically process these events.
We have just overviewed the psychological reasons for betrayal trauma. Now, let us analyze the responses to betrayal trauma that we commonly observe in our communities and societies. Freezing at the spot is one of the widely spotted responses; fight or flight response is what many people come up with, often following an emotionally upsetting process. We mentioned hyperarousal of the limbic system earlier, leading to a fight or flight response. Feelings of intense anger, fear, and panic typically constitute the fight or flight response. We are sure that some of you might have experienced such feelings suddenly, regardless of betrayal trauma. The exact opposite of this psychological response happens when the limbic system is hypo-aroused. The disconnect between mind and body is visibly discernible during such an event. The disconnect is accompanied by mind fog, memory lapses of the worst degrees, and a lack of emotional relatability. Again, it is worth reiterating that once your emotional response centre enters either of these states, the effects on the brain’s overall ability are drastic. Processing feelings, creating memories, and sometimes, even being in the present becomes a daunting challenge.
Interestingly, there is a third type of response to betrayal trauma. It is what is described as appeasement or people-pleasing in the common lexicon. Once the sword of betrayal scars a person’s heart, it becomes anxious to hold on to whatever relations it still has got around. And so, validating and catering to other people’s needs becomes a must-do-it-at-all-costs event. While it looks like a lovely thing to do on its face, this appeasing approach can lead to an identity crisis in the long run. Result? More betrayals and the associated trauma in the future!
Physiological Impact Of Betrayal Trauma
The psychological impact of betrayal trauma is not the only bad thing about the experience. Apart from the mind succumbing to the mounting emotional pressures, the human body can also fall prey to numerous physical complications. We talk about the physiological impact of betrayal trauma in this section.
Apart from becoming a home to many stress-induced diseases, the human body’s overall look can change significantly. Emotional disturbance can keep one in bed all day long, leading to issues like weight management. Some people try to find comfort in food and become too reliant on comfort food for their happiness. Obesity is the ultimate result of such an approach. Not everyone overeats, though; some heartbreaks can take away your appetite.
The terrible thoughts just don’t seem to leave the mind alone post-betrayal trauma—problems like hypertension and fluctuating heartbeat stem from this continuous overthinking. Things don’t stop here; matters can worsen as one starts feeling wary of intimacy. And it is perfectly understandable as well; trusting someone is not easy. It takes time, effort, and all of your heart before you can trust or give someone your trust.
Minor physical complications often ignored or attributed to other reasons can also stem from the seed of betrayal trauma. These physical complications include insomnia, nausea, vomiting, rapid hair loss, brain fog, etc. Remember, most of our bodies’ physical problems are a by-product of what goes up there in our minds. So, a road to recovery starts from there; one must cleanse their thoughts first. Only then can one hope to initiate betrayal trauma recovery.
We have painted a rather gloomy picture about betrayal trauma for most of this discussion. And we will be honest, battling the waves of depressions that hit one after going through a traumatic experience of this nature can be a daunting challenge. But betrayal trauma recovery is not an improbable thought. Several strategies can help you recover; finding empathetic support is one of the primary keys to unlocking the doors of betrayal trauma recovery. It might sound a little surprising, but today, betrayal trauma specialists provide their services globally. Seeking the help of one such specialist is an option you can consider. Support groups are another great way to share your sorrow and find solace by forging new relations. Remember, recovery demands patience, but it will give you peace! On that hopeful note, we bid you farewell from this space!